Transformational Learning

Transformative learning is defined as the capacity to be continuously engaged in reflection on experience through questioning why things are the way they are to reach the root causes of problems. It requires that learners propose solutions and take actions to implement them which actions give rise to further reflection on the effectiveness of action and the accuracy of the analysis. Transformative learning can be applied to any situation, and to any sector since the act of questioning can be about issues in the home, in the economy of the community or of the nation, environmental degradation, national security or women’s rights or children’s rights. It can be learned by children as well as by adults. What is important about transformative learning is that is must go beyond questioning to the proposition of solutions and actions to implement those solutions as an individual or together in community. Transformative learning is linked to a critical pedagogical tradition education promoted by theorists such as Freire, Horton, Belenky, and Brookfield.

Transformative learning is identified as a thematic area because it is a natural way of learning. However, it is yet discouraged in institutions of learning, giving preference instead to learning that is gained from instruction and one-way communication rather than learning that is gained from questioning, reflection and offering solutions and action by both the student and teacher. The creative capacity of the learner is therefore not harnessed nor is their confidence in themselves as knower’s or creators of knowledge, to be able to take ownership of and responsibility for the learning process. This creates the tendency to look outward for initiating change in our reality, waiting for the NGO, the government or the donors. Transformation, therefore, becomes slow, unsustainable and difficult to achieve and most importantly in the hands – or at the discretion of- another party. The transformation will not be without challenges but when learners are empowered and can take control of their situations, change becomes a sustainable process that is people driven and people empowered.